May first, Istiklal

May 1, 2014

Things are eerily quiet around Istiklal. It’s May first, the international workers day, a holiday in Turkey, but one with history of clashes, shootings and protests.

For a week, we have seen police barriers readied along the full length of Istiklal, the goal being making it impossible for protesters to reach Taksim, a historically charged place regarding this holiday. Yesterday we were all discussing what we thought could happen, when the street would be blocked and how to be ready for it.

the government shut off all ferries coming from the East side of Istanbul, again to limit the amount of people coming to Taksim to protest. Last night in Tarlabasi, a place and people the government is not fond of, the street lights went out around 10 PM. I had to work at Chillout this morning and I elected to spend the night there so I would not have problems trying to get there in the morning. I left Tarlabasi around 11, the streets looking mysterious and dangerous with shadows back lit by moving cars headlights danced on the worn and decrepit walls. I followed a man up the street, walking right in his steps as if with him, I got to Istiklal without a problem.

There, it was a surprise to see that none of the beggars that have been lining the streets lately this is kind of new, Last year you’d see one or two but lately the streets have been occupied by them. (many are Syrian refugees) they sit with their whole families, babies at the breast, little kids extending their hands, older ones aggressively running after tourists for money and mothers with painful expressions and stretched out hands pleading for money. Somehow the police cleaned up the streets. there was zero begging after 10 PM.

This morning, Istiklal is eerily quiet. I saw online, that it is not the case everywhere, there has been gas and confrontations all over, but right here, right now it is quiet.

So I worked my half day and now as I sit here at Galata, there is a police presence, no gates but they stand there, relaxed for now. Never a dull moment.

if you are interested, here is a bit of information
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Apr-30/254962-thousands-to-defy-may-day-ban-on-turkeys-taksim-square.ashx#axzz30Sl4Btz6

So all is well. I will head home and rest a bit, there hasn’t been much sleep these last two days.

hugs all around

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